(3 are special needs, the rest are grown)
I am proud to be a veteran. I served in the United States Air Force until 1980 when I was medically retired. I am disabled veteran rated 100% disabled service-connected for Meniere's Disease plus another 110% due to orthopedic conditions. I've also been diagnosed with a seizure disorder and mini-strokes (also known as TIA). A down side of my medical issues is I can't get life insurance, a big deal when you have a severely disabled child who is more than 50 years younger than you. This picture is an AWACS plane and an F-15 in Alaska. I was involved with the AWACS as a computer analyst from its beginning.
Life with 11 Children (9 daughters, 2 sons)
People often ask why I had so many children. It's not because of any religious view. I just love children and believe they have value. I've received a lot of criticism from people who assume large families are a burden to society and ask, "How can you afford it?"
It wasn't that difficult. I simply chose kids over debt. I didn't buy anything unless I could pay cash and invested in my kids instead of buying a bigger house, a better car, and more toys for myself.
How ironic that so many of my critics ended up being the burdens on society because they bought too much house, too much car, or too much anything and triggered a national debt crisis with billions dumped on the public via foreclosures while most of my "too many" kids were helping to bail them out.
Dad and Hope - 6 months old
What Family and Friends can do:
1. Control the noise in the person's environment. Meniere's Disease not only causes noise in the person's ear, the reverse is true too. Noise can precipitate a Meniere's Attack. Before you try to talk to us, turn off things such as radios and TVs.
2. Make sure we can see your face when you talk to us and don't take offense if we ask you to repeat yourself.
3. Be patient. We're not ignoring you or being rude. We'reprobably having an attack. If in doubt, ask, "Are you having a Meniere's attack?"
Overview: I've had Meniere's Disease since 1978. I've tried everything including surgery, motion sickness drugs, zombie drugs, allergy testing, counseling, wonder cures from MLM companies. I've tried it all and the only thing I can tell you is there are no cures. If I take enough Valium I can suppress the symptoms but the dosage needed to do that leaves me falling all over myself or unable to stay awake.
Description: The primary symptom of Meniere's Disease is vertigo, the sensation you are spinning and everything else is stationary, or you are stationary and everything else is spinning. For me, the vertigo attacks last anywhere from a few seconds to over 8 hours and they hit without warning. Vertigo like this can be incapacitating, not just during the attack but afterwards because a vertigo attack usually exhausts the sufferer to the point they have to sleep it off.
1. The biggest issue for me has been falls, well over 100 of them since 2004. There are two types of falls. The first is understandable enough, loss of balance during vertigo. The second is less common with Meniere's and it's called a Drop Attack or "otolithic crisis of Tumarkin". One second you're fine and then, without warning, you just drop. There's a high risk of injury. I've been knocked out a couple of times and even had surgery after these drop attacks.
2. Most Meniere's sufferers have nausea during vertigo attacks. Fortunately, I've never had that problem.
3. Tinnitus, or ringing in the ears, is fairly universal. My left ear rings 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It never
stops. Only the volume changes. My right ear makes periodic loud, clicking sounds. Both interfere with hearing.
4. Eventually, all Meniere's sufferers have hearing loss. It's frustrating because people assume if you can't hear you must be stupid. It's also frustrating to have to ask people to repeat themselves. If two people are talking at the same time or a TV is on in the background I can't make sense of either. Shouting at me or talking slowly like I don't speak English doesn't help. This hearing loss is like a jigsaw puzzle with some of the pieces missing. Shouting just makes the pieces bigger. It doesn't make the missing pieces reappear. What does help is looking at me when you talk to me and removing any background noise. For example, if the TV's on, ask if you can turn it off instead of talking over the top.
5. A symptom I have frequently is pressure in my head. I once described it to my doctor as a headache without the pain.
6. Confusion, inability to focus, and short term memory loss are major frustrations. It's described in my records as "intermittent periods of cognitive deficit". Imagine adding 1+1, coming up with 3 but not being aware it's incorrect. I have to go back a day later and double check everything.
7. One symptom I have that nobody else with Meniere's seems to have is aphasia, the inability to speak. The first time this happened to me was back in 1979 when two of my Air Force buddies manhandled me down to the base hospital's emergency room because I couldn't tell them I didn't want to go. When it happens the words are clear in my mind but they won't come out. The easiest solution for me is to write until the aphasia wears off.
Meniere's Disease (You probably won't be interested in this unless you or a loved one have Meniere's Disease)
Current Status: Frequent vertigo attacks, falls (over 100 falls since 2004), hearing loss, chronic pain/fatigue (due to the falls and degenerative processes). The Veterans Administration and Social Security have both rated me totally and permanently disabled due to Meniere's disease. I no longer have a drivers license.
Biggest Impact on day to day life: Loss of independence
Until I got my scooter the size of my world had shrunk to the size of my living room and I had become a prisoner in my own home. Now I'm "green" and can drive my new "convertible" all month for just $2 of electricity. How cool is that?
3 of Emma's sisters are black belts. 2 others are high-powered rifle marksmen.
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